Michael Louis Serafin-Wells



Michael Serafin-Wells - Composer and Musician

Michael is the lead guitarist, singer, composer and co-founder of NYC-based dreampop trio Bipolar Explorer. Beginning with their double-album Of Love and Loss (Slugg Records, 2012)  - named to the Critics Poll of Best Albums of the Year by Ground Control Magazine who called it "the most significantly stirring and addictive musical accomplishment we've come across in some time - taut, emotional, urgent and altogether haunting" - the band have released seven albums to date. Their most recent, Sometimes in Dreams (Slugg Records, 2018), was praised as "epic and affecting" (Surface Noise) and cited by France's Indiemusic as "unforgettable and essential - a major record".

Sometimes in Dreams, Dream Together, Electric Hymnal, Angels, and Of Love and Loss are all albums of, for and about Bipolar Explorer's fallen bandmate and co-founder, Michael's love and partner, Summer Serafin (who passed away in 2011 after a tragic accident). Summer appears on every album as Michael reworks her isolated vocal tracks into new material. Proceeds from each record are marked for the memorial fund in Summer's name at The University of Minnesota Medical Foundation.


Their sixth album, Dream Together (2017), praised by France’s Indiemusic as “magical and majestic - an ultimate tour-de-force”, their double-album, Of Love and Loss (2013) - "The most significantly stirring and addictive musical accomplishment we've come across in some time. Taut, emotional, urgent and altogether haunting” -  and its follow-up, Angels (2015) - “Electrifying, what music fueled by raw love and emotions sounds like” - each a Critics Pick for Best Albums of the Year by Ground Control Magazine, Bipolar Explorer are an NYC-based dreampop, post-rock group founded by Summer Serafin (vocals) and Michael Serafin-Wells (lead guitar & vocals, bass and percussion), notable for intimate, electric live performances, unimpeachable songwriting, uncompromising DIY ethos and their playing without drums.

Featured on the legendary Irene Trudel's show on WFMU ("America's best radio station" - Rolling Stone) who calls their sound "beautiful, great drifty pop, filled with sadness and wonder”, the band’s newest album, their seventh, a double-album, Sometimes in Dreams, was released on Slugg Records New Years Day 2018.

Recorded, mixed and produced by the band at The Shrine in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, Sometimes in Dreams is the group’s seventh album overall and their third in just the span of eighteen months.  France’s Indiemusic praising it as “Unforgettable and essential. A major record.” and Surface Noise calling it “Epic and affecting.”

In artistic collaboration with several visual artist friends of the band, Sometimes in Dreams, Dream Together and Electric Hymnal are conceived for performance as live installation pieces, in intimate, non-traditional settings. Immersive and multi-media, this direction might well be seen as a natural outgrowth of the band’s perennial choice of performance setting - art galleries - and other non-traditional venues.

Forging an unique sound - described variously as shoegaze, dreampop, slowcore, post-rock and minimalist indie - well serves the new songs Serafin-Wells began writing in the aftermath of the tragic loss of the group's female vocalist, Michael's love and partner, Summer Serafin, who passed away after a tragic accident in 2011. She was just 31. At work at the time on a new record, the group eventually returned to those recordings, adding them to a handful of newly written songs post-tragedy and re-conceiving the album as both a testament and tribute to Ms. Serafin – muse, collaborator and True Love - yielding a double-album, Of Love and Loss, released to great acclaim in October 2012.

As Michael told Indiemusic’s Raphael Duprez in a feature about the band (February 2017): “All of this is entirely for her. I often say that our music, each album, is of, for and about her. It’s my way of telling people about her and talking to her myself. That’s  the “for’ and “about” parts of the equation. And Summer remains an integral part of the band - not only as its inspiration but, because I have lots of her isolated vocals from other recording sessions - as her voice, both spoken and singing, graces each record. I’ll write songs and fly in her voice. Summer isn’t the main reason BPX goes on, she’s the only reason. She is the reason. And I think I can trust that I’m doing things for the right reason if I always know the reason for it is her. Not out of any ambition other than to honor and conjure her. She’s my conscience."


Bipolar Explorer's releases include Sometimes in Dreams (2018), Dream Together (2017), Electric Hymnal (2016), Angels (2015), their holiday album - BPXmas (2014),  Of Love and Loss (2012), the digital-only singles Watchers and Holy Ones (2017), We’ll All Go Together (2016) and Downtown Train (2015) and their earlier (pre-Summer) debut Go Negative. All titles are available on Slugg Records.

Michael Louis Serafin-Wells - Writer

Currently at work on the first of three volumes of memoirs about his life with his late-sweetheart, Summer, Michael's writing encompasses both narrative poetry and prose, non-fiction, short stories, and, formerly, works for both the theatre and indie film. His narrative poetry often finds voice as spoken word, underscored by instrumental composition, as a recording artist with his group Bipolar Explorer. Michael is also the author of the ongoing blog, Summerlove, dedicated to the memory and in honor of his late-sweetheart Summer Serafin. 


Perhaps best known for his work as a former playwright (1994-2014) his writing praised by The New York Times as "LaBute territory with fresh angles and sustained tension", Michael is a winner of The London New Play Festival, Icicle Creek Theatre Festival resident playwright, two-time finalist for the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Heideman Award, inaugural recipient of a First Light commission from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and finalist for the Verity Bargate Award at London’s Soho Theatre & Writers Centre. His plays have seen production, publication, workshops and readings in New York, London, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and elsewhere.


The first anthology of Michael's work, "Collected Plays", was released in print (Aug 2014) by indie publishers The Ginger Press. An e-book version is now also available via Amazon (for Kindle), Barnes & Noble (for Nook) and iTunes (for iBooks).


Serafin-Wells made his professional debut in New York with Real Real Gone (published by Smith & Kraus), which The Star Ledger observed “heralds a new writer with an acute sense of language and a special ability to dramatize human behavior” and Variety pronounced as “the best of the bunch - far and away – with language that laces the natural poetics of the street with erudition”.


Other works include The “I” Word: Interns (Faber & Faber), about idealistic Clinton staffers, cited by Show Business as “ripe with political savvy” and The Village Voice for “handling the Beltway lingo with brains and Shavian brio!” as well as Detail, winner of The London New Play Festival and produced in a new version in New York in June 2006.


Michael's final full-length, My Before and After, was given a two-week workshop co-produced by Seattle's ACT Theatre and the Icicle Creek Theatre Festival.


In June 2011, his one-act, Two From The Line, saw production Off-Broadway at New York's Ensemble Studio Theatre as part of their Annual Marathon of One-Act Plays. Cited by The New York Times as "La Bute territory with fresh angles and sustained tension", it was also selected for publication by Smith & Kraus for their “Best Short Plays" anthology. In July 2010 Michael adapted this work for the screen overseeing casting, rehearsals and principal photography. And in February 2011 the film version of Two From The Line took Best Screenplay and Best Film honors at the 11th SC Independent Film Festival in San Francisco.


His play, District of Columbia, set in a cooperative house on the eve of the 1988 US Presidential election, was workshopped in March 2007 at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and given a subsequent developmental reading off-West End at The Finborough in November 2007 - both under the direction of Wilson Milam.


Another full-length, Seven Pages Unsigned - in development with San Francisco’s Magic Theatre under Artistic Director, Chris Smith, received a workshop in December 2007 as one of three plays selected for “New Voices West”, a program dedicated to new works from emerging American playwrights. The play saw its European premiere in May 2010 with a workshop reading directed by Wilson Milam at London's Finborough Theatre as part of their "Vibrant" festival, curated by Finborough Artistic Director Neil McPherson in celebration of the theatre's 30th anniversary. 


Michael's primary focus presently are the aforementioned volumes of the Of Love and Loss trilogy (he keeps a regular blog, Summerlove, that is the seed and online manifestation of those works in-progress) and the spoken word narrative poetry he writes for Bipolar Explorer - their work described as "seamlessly weaving shoegaze with spoken word undergirded by ambient post-rock guitar. A cross between Slowdive and the work of Laurie Anderson, like a late night post-rock radio transmission drifting across the airwaves as we lay half asleep in bed”.

Serafin-Wells is a member The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Michael Louis Serafin- Wells - Actor (retired)

Since the tragic passing of his love and partner, Summer Serafin, in 2011, Michael's acting appearances are now infrequent. Indeed, he finds it of little import and considers himself now retired from the profession.


From 2011-2015 a pair of rare exceptions, however, found him on stage in New York, off-B'way in 2013 as Robert Hooke in the premiere of Lucas Hnath's "Issac's Eye" - his performance celebrated by The New York Times as "deliciously sly" and featured on both NPR's "Studio 360" and "Science Friday". And most recently (November 2015), creating the role of Mick in the World Premiere of Irish playwright Bryan Delaney's The Seedbed at New Jersey Repertory Theatre.


Previously, perhaps best known as an actor for his work as Clemens (3 seasons recurring) on NBC's "Law & Order", Michael has appeared extensively in film, television and on New York and regional stages. An NYU Graduate Acting Program MFA candidate and scholarship designee, just prior to his semi-retirement Michael was seen in Patrick Link's "Sweet Forgotten Flavor", staged by Youngblood Artistic Director RJ Tolan; off-Broadway as Trotsky in "Lenin's Embalmers" with Zack Grenier; and in "Two-Handers" directed by Tony-nominee Wilson Milam. Other personal favorites have included playing 6 roles in the World Premiere of Edna O’Brien’s "Tir Na nOg" at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, staged by Artistic Director Chris Smith and "Tilted House" directed by Mabou Mines Founder Lee Breuer, at New York’s Flea Theatre.


Indie films audiences may remember him as the lead in Fraser Bresnehan’s "Shut Yer Mouth!" and featured in Sam Henry Kass’s "The Search for One-Eyed Jimmy". Earlier in his career Off-Broadway, Michael appeared with Calista Flockhart and Liev Schreiber in Paul Weitz's "All For One", at the Manhattan Theatre Club in "Joined At The Head" (dir: Pamela Berlin) and as Wilbur Wright in Arthur Giron’s "Flight". Further New York credits include the role of Archie Landrum in the original NYC workshop of Mark Medoff's "The Homage That Follows" (with Kathleen Chalfant), Andrew in Bruce Paltrow & Tom Fontana's "1761" (with Marylouise Burke) and a brief stint in the recurring role of Reggie on ABC's daytime serial "Loving".


Among his regional credits are ten plays over four seasons with Washington, DC's Studio Theatre including his professional debut as Phil McCann in the US premiere of John Byrne's "The Slab Boys Trilogy" (Helen Hayes nominee, dir: Joy Zinoman).


Also an audiobook narrator, Michael recorded over 30 titles with the major publishing houses including Random House, Penguin, Simon and Schuster, Harper-Collins, and sadly, Audible - Amazon's notorious audiobook arm. He urges readers and audiobook enthusiasts to support the work of authors and voice artists by giving their patronage to proper publishers, especially the small and independent imprints.